READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, April 23rd

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Senate Ag Committee Advances Growing Climate Solutions Act

The Senate Agriculture Committee quickly advanced the Growing Climate Solutions Act Thursday morning. Via a voice vote, the committee approved the legislation, sending it on to the full Senate for consideration. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow states, “On Earth Day, our committee came together in a bipartisan way to pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act.” Ranking member John Boozman says the bill “demonstrates what can be accomplished if we take a bipartisan approach to legislating.” The bill creates a structure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers and foresters scale-up climate-oriented practices and benefit from emerging new sources of farm revenue. The bill was reintroduced on Tuesday with the support of 42 Senators and over 70 agricultural and environmental organizations. Agriculture groups are supportive of the legislation. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “The Growing Climate Solutions Act rightly rewards farmers for climate-smart practices and provides important guidelines for success.”

NACD Announces Climate Action Task Force

The National Association of Conservation Districts Thursday announced the formation of a Climate Action Task Force. The Task Force will assess current and emerging climate policy opportunities and make recommendations to NACD’s leadership. The goal is to utilize the technical knowledge and expertise of conservation districts as part of the U.S. solution to climate change. NACD President Michael Crowder says, “It’s important to keep locally-led conservation at the forefront of U.S. climate mitigation efforts to set strong direction that also serves the needs of local communities.” President Crowder selected NACD Immediate Past President Tim Palmer to lead the task force. Palmer says, “The task force members have a keen knowledge – from different perspectives – of how utilizing continuously refined and emerging practices can help our soils and ecosystems produce climate benefits.” NACD says conservation practices that are trusted and familiar to landowners can play a critical role in climate change mitigation and healthy farm, ranch, tribal and forestry economies.

NMPF Supports Labeling Integrity Through DAIRY PRIDE Act

The National Milk Producers Federation commended lawmakers for reintroducing the DAIRY PRIDE Act. The legislation, NMPF says, would bring clear, accurate labeling information for consumers and end harmful mislabeling of dairy foods for plant-based products. The legislation requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enforce its own existing standards of identity on imitation dairy products after decades of inaction. Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and James Risch, an Idaho Republican, introduced a Senate version of the bill, and a companion bill was introduced in the House. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern states, “FDA is responsible for the integrity and safety of our nation’s food, medicine, and medical devices, and it’s crucial that it enforce its own standards and requirements.” Standards of identity legally define what constitutes a specific food or food product, requiring the food product to carry certain qualities. When enforced, these legal standards protect consumers by helping to ensure the integrity of their food.

White House Launches Drought Relief Working Group

The White House this week announced the formation of an Interagency Working Group to address worsening drought conditions in the West and ongoing water shortages. The Working Group will be co-chaired by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, “With our interagency Working Group, we will collaborate with Tribes, agricultural producers, landowners, and rural communities to build regional resilience to drought.” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says, “We are committed to using every resource available” to accomplish their goal. The Working Group will work to identify immediate financial and technical assistance for impacted irrigators and Tribes. Development of longer-term measures to respond to climate change and build more resilient communities and protect the natural environment will also be a priority, including through President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and through a recommitment to strengthening the National Drought Resilience Partnership. Formed in 2013, the NDRP brings together federal agencies to build long-term drought resilience.

USDA Invests $487 Million in Rural Water, Energy, and Biofuel Infrastructure

The Department of Agriculture celebrated Earth Day Thursday by announcing a $487 million infrastructure investment to help communities in 45 states. USDA says the funding will help communities build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship. USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The investments include $374 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states. The funding also includes $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program, and $17.4 million in loans in New Mexico and South Dakota through the Electric Loan Program. Finally, USDA is using $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gallons per year.

Electric Car Sales Up 81 Percent

Sales growth of both electric and hybrid vehicles outpaced overall market performance in the first quarter of 2021. Electrified vehicles – automobiles featuring large battery packs and electric motors in the propulsion system – accounted for 7.8 percent of the total U.S. market, up from 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book released the data that finds electrified vehicle sales growth of 81 percent far outpaced industry growth. Sales of electric vehicles – battery only – grew by 44.8 percent year over year, reaching nearly 100,000 sales in the quarter, which is a record. Sales of hybrid vehicles outpaced both the market and electric vehicles, doubling to more than 200,000 in the quarter. Hybrid sales are increasing more quickly as sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles jumped by 106 percent in the first quarter of the year. The overall automobile market increased by 11.4 percent in the quarter.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.